The lack of chatter on the next version of Windows may be fine for now -- the Vista team talked too soon and some features ended up being removed, and people are just now beginning the shift to Vista -- but sooner or later, somebody's going to have to start talking. And I'm not just saying that because my reporter instincts tell me the more information, the faster it gets to me, the better.
The need for info on Windows is especially pertinent if Microsoft is serious about releasing Windows Seven/Vienna in 2009 as planned. That's two years off. Remember, Vista nee Longhorn chatter already was heavy two years before its release.
Apple can get away with it. It has a relatively tiny portion of the PC marketplace and its vertical integration -- most things on an Apple are still Apple -- means there aren't as many software and hardware vendors relying on specs. Apple can just release the iPhone and iPod as is, and Mac OS X isn't as vital for as many business customers and vendors as Windows. Microsoft, on the other hand, has a massive installed base and a massive partner ecosystem. Hardware and software vendors rely on it to spec out their own products. Beta testing programs seem to be getting larger and more important for Microsoft for solving problems before the first service pack hits.
People want and even need to know what Microsoft is up to, and they're starting to complain about the fact that they can't get their hands on anything about Internet Explorer 8 and Windows Vista SP1. That should be something from which to learn.